Thursday, January 26th, 2023
Thursday, January 26th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Online licensing, checking system delayed until 2011

DNR, Staff Reports

Columbus – The DNR Division of Wildlife will give itself a bit
more time to institute an online licensing and game checking
system.

First scheduled to go live in March of 2010, the Web-based
system has been pushed back to a March 2011 start date.

Division of Wildlife administrators figure that will give them
more time to iron out the wrinkles and address concerns some have
over the new automated system, which will replace a system in place
since 1999.

As for now, the Division of Wildlife has agreed to a $16.3
million contract with The Active Network Inc. to build and
implement the Web-based license sales and game check system. The
length of the contract is 81/2 years, said Sue Howard, the
division’s executive administrator of business operations.

The final contract price is more than $8,000 less than two bids
the division evaluated – and ultimately balked at – last year. The
first bids included costs for replacing computer equipment required
by the state’s 1,300 license vendors – an added cost of $12-$18
million.

The new system will require license vendors to purchase their
own computer and printer, a cost that Howard expects to be
nominal.

“The system will be built so if you have a normal, newer
computer, it will work,” Howard told members of the Ohio Wildlife
Council on March 4.

In exchange for the additional burden, license vendors under the
new system would be permitted to keep a $1 writing fee for each
license and permit sold, a 100 percent increase over the .50 cents
they now get for each sale.

Conservation clubs, which since 1933 have been a mainstay as
license agents, have traditionally received a portion of the $1
license-writing fees, which they typically invest in public-benefit
projects related to hunting, fishing, and trapping. Clubs still
will have the option of being license vendors, but also would have
to provide their own computers and printers, with the same
reimbursement allotment of writing fees as any other vendors.

In addition, wildlife administrators have decided to set aside a
portion of the division budget for a partnership program in which
individual clubs could apply for grants to underwrite projects they
once paid for through license-writing fees.

Whether or not a license vendor wants to take on the additional
cost of buying their own hardware will be a business decision on
their part, said Howard. Division of Wildlife officials have said
they don’t expect all 1,300 of the current vendors to take on that
additional cost.

So, here’s how we got to this point. After rejecting both of the
original offers, which came in around $22.4 million, the project
was rebid last fall. The Active Network, which is currently either
maintaining or developing automated hunting and fishing licenses
systems in 26 states, was the only bidder.

Funds to pay for the new system will come from money generated
from the sale of fishing, hunting and trapping licenses. State tax
dollars are not part of the funding.

Prior to the March 1, 2011, date, a number of pilot projects
will be implemented to ensure the new system’s readiness, according
to Howard.

When the system is in place, hunters, trappers and anglers will
see minor changes in the appearance of their license, but the
licensing process will remain the same. Deer and turkey hunters
will be introduced to a new system that will allow them to easily
and conveniently check game at a license vendor, by phone, or on
the Internet.

A proposed change to the Ohio Revised Code, currently in House
Bill 1, would allow resident landowners the convenience of
automated game checking that all other hunters in Ohio would have,
but would require them to acquire a free deer or turkey permit in
order to use the system.

The Active Network, founded in 1988 and based in San Diego,
Calif., touts itself as the largest global provider of integrated
technology solutions, marketing services, and online media
properties. Neighboring Pennsylvania, which will launch a new
point-of-sale licensing system in June, is among the 26 states
where the company is developing automated licensing systems. The
Active Network is also the contractor for the reservation system
currently being used by Ohio State Parks.

From the Division of Wildlife’s point of view, the new system
will incorporate better management and integration of license sales
information, hunter education, publication distribution and
tracking, special permitting initiatives, controlled hunt
allocations, arrest report tracking, and improved game check
processes.

Eric Spencer, a hunter from Pomeroy, said he fears online
checking will make it easier for people to cheat the system.

“If I have to go to a check station to show someone that little
metal tag in the ear, that makes a difference. That’s one little
step that keeps people honest,” Spencer said.

“I have applauded Ohio over the years for not taking drastic
steps with the deer herd. They give us a little something in some
years and that’s just fine. But, this is where all of their work on
deer management is going to go right out the window, I’m
afraid.”

The added time for development should help alleviate concerns,
said Dave Graham, chief of the Division of Wildlife.

“We’ve got well over a year to work on concerns about checking,
processor concerns, or whatever the issue may be,” said Graham.

For more information, log onto wildohio.com. Once on the home page,
click on the “Proposed New License Sales and Game Check System”
line under the Ohio Wildlife News heading. As the new system moves
through development, Web site will be updated with any new details,
according to the Division of Wildlife.

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